The Indian Pet industry is comprised of various segments such as pet food, accessories, healthcare, grooming, boarding and training. The recent years have seen a sudden growth in the number of pet owners due to a rise in disposable income as well as other factors such as urbanization, small families and need for companionship in old age.
The rise in pet numbers has led to an accelerated demand for various pet services. Of these, dog training is emerging as a powerful segment within the pet industry which is predicted to yield profits in the future. The business is set to be a lucrative prospect for those willing to engage in it. However, if you’re looking to become a dog trainer, you must be driven by passion and acquire the right skill-set to take on this challenging task.
Taking on the training task:
Working with our furry companions is a thrilling as well as rewarding experience and can change into a brilliant career prospect for those willing to invest adequate time and effort in this field. Dog training involves teaching our canine friends about responding to specific conditions in a particular manner. It is indeed a demanding job but enables one to train a dog for various functions such as detection, protection, companionship, therapy, entertainment and obedience.
Dog trainers are certified coaches deemed fit for this role and train dogs so that they can adjust to human contact and easily adapt to living with humans. There are many dog trainers in the market, but our country faces a dearth of good dog trainers and training institutes.
Suresh Sherawat, celebrity dog trainer from India says, “It is very important to perform a background check of the trainer before hiring him for the job. Successful dog trainers have a wide and varied experience working with dogs with different capabilities.”
He goes on to add that the future of the pet industry is bright but it is difficult to find qualified dog trainers in our country. This is primarily because no dog training institute is available in India focusing entirely on producing competent trainers. Most dog handlers and trainers are self-styled individuals running independent businesses without any formal qualification to back them. Such trainers use unscientific methods to train the dog which can prove harmful for it in the long run.
In order to attain formal dog training certifications one needs to get trained in an institute located oversees which is a daunting task considering the cost involved and is not feasible for everybody.
What to look for in a dog trainer?
A dog trainer needs to be accustomed to the different training techniques used to train different breeds. Mumbai based trainer Alistair Fernandes of The DogFather Training Services Institute opines, “It is imperative to have proper knowledge of dog behavior as dogs respond differently to training. Different dogs and breeds take different time frames to learn depending on their age and caliber.”
A good dog trainer should be able to incorporate multiple training techniques to train a dog successfully. Apart from formal training certifications, it is important for dog owners to look for credentials and verify any references given by the trainer. Alistair goes on to add, “It is crucial for pet owners to look up the trainer’s website or page in addition to performing a background check. Most trainers rely on word-of-mouth or references to market themselves. I recommend due diligence on the part of pet trainers to see how reliable these sources are. They must make adequate inquiries before appointing anybody to train their pet.”
At any point of time if you notice the trainer being abusive or violent towards the dog you must dismiss him immediately. Sherawat says, “Such behavior is detrimental for the psyche of the dog and can cause aggression issues later in life.”
As a dog owner, it is your duty to ensure that the dog is in safe hands and you must insist that your pet gets trained in your presence. Alistair feels that in the end it all boils down to the willingness of the dog to learn and the efforts put in by the owners as the dog spends maximum time with his human parents and not the trainer.
Dog training – tips and techniques
There are various dog training tips and techniques that can be used to train your fur buddies. Different dogs respond differently to training and mustn’t be pushed beyond a certain limit. Dog training mostly comprises of obedience training but many a times trainers are required to work on various behavior issues in the dog as well. Most behavior correction techniques are implemented to sort aggression in dogs, usually towards other animals or humans or help them get over destructive habits such as chewing furniture.
Dog training usually comprises of obedience training for domestic animals with the primary focus on helping dogs get accustomed to living with humans centering on commands such as sit, stay , eat, no and heel.
Sherawat, who advocates the ‘non-force method’ of training says, “Here the dog is neither punished by force nor is rewarded for following commands. The only tools that are used are facial expressions, repetition of words and praise and affection.”
He believes that the right amount of discipline and love is all it takes to ensure that your canine companion showcases his best behavior.
Dog training as a mini-industry:
The pet industry on the whole is witnessing a revolution with more and more people adopting pets. Considering the pros and cons of this, Alistair reflects, “While it is amazing to see that a larger number of individuals are coming forward to adopt pets, it also has its downside. Buying pets without sufficient research about the breed, and responsibilities associated with dog ownership can trigger a plethora of behavior problems and unwanted issues for both the pet as well as the owners.”
Alistair has made it a mission to educate prospective pet owners about taking responsibility by reading up and conducting optimum research on the dog before bringing it home. He says, “Individuals need to understand what to expect from a puppy of a specific breed before bringing it home as the energy levels of the little ones are very high. On numerous occasions, pet owners get impatient and lose it on the dog or end
up looking for NGOs to take it in or abandon it.”
In recent years, many individuals have left their stable jobs to pursue their interests as dog trainers. Alistair insists, “It is one thing to be interested in training a dog and another to be qualified to carry out the task. Doing it the right way makes all the difference, which is only possible if an individual is professionally qualified to take the challenge head on.”
No government dog training institute or course is available in India which propels owners to turn to a select few trainers. Most of these trainers are retired Army, Police or BSF dog trainers and are known to use counter-productive or aversive training methods which are not suitable for dogs.
As a global player, India is still lagging behind when it comes to the proper implementation of animal laws and rights. Unlike foreign countries, there is no regulation to determine that all domestic dogs are trained by a certified trainer. In earlier times, individuals only associated dog training with security or detection dogs. This however has changed and pet owners are realizing the importance of obedience training.
While training a dog is the norm in western society, India still has a long way to go in terms of governing bodies, implementation of rules and regulations and inculcation of civic sense among people.